Garden Variety with Lesbians
You rake the soil of our verge, preparing our plot for summer.
Between us, walking—neighbors and dogs, questions: what are we doing here, to the earth
of our verge—unhinged rhizomes heap, clumped grief of an old barrow sways drunk on its wheel.
We agree: the barren of potential; we agree, bulbs—their dormancy, a poem—
and tubers—like language, for their incubation of eyes. I emerge, eyes
on you, nuclear to the sun—beside you, lowering; beside you, that glow-eyed beast
of emptiness arranging.
I tell you about this morning’s dream. You tear the ground with a pickaxe; I manicure
weeds from the loamy apron of a young tree. I admit: I stared at our newborn with regret.
True, you laugh light into our longing. A mother tells me: Early morning dreams are premonitions.
What premonition is it to long to see (the Earth); what regret is it to birth another into this longing?
But how early was it—the morning—the bouquet making-root in a sorry vase.
I am not one for intentional form, but maybe, babe—should we freeze our eggs?
You strongarm the wheelbarrow. Not me. Exoskeletal flora deflated like a dead birthday party.
Our cat pounces crickets from the limit of her tangled leash.
We leash because patriarchy. We leash because to verge leans always toward. Too toward.
Watch children! The slow or empty road. The crows’ luxury of carrion.
Today, I am wearing your pants and you are wearing mine—Sapphic! I crouch
to the earth of our verge—any keen beast knows what, there, next opens: Our raked plot effluvial.
But we know soil is all foreshadow. Fingers subtext glove-fingers, floral print—
syntax is the bacteria of desire.
Our hose froze broken—leaks, screeching—so we bear the water in cans.
We bare the water in cans and unload bagged soil from the bed. Our verge leans luxury. We’ll feast
on the effulgence of dinnerplate dahlias. But it’s early spring and I’m already
anxious about regretting labor.
We could fail the future, babe—do you, too, feel our potential
is a meaning leaning too much, too toward, swaying with unhinged grief—Why
do we labor the rearrangement of this plot?
Twist earthful effluvium. Difficult to tell your pants from mine.
We stare back the setting sun: love, a premonition of night foreshadowed
in light’s velvet ash.
Deliver me bulbs from the peatmoss of our winter-keep; I’ll strongarm
their tunicate survival—divulge!—as if it were nutrient reek of our own flesh, own whet nerve.
Copyright © 2023 by Serena Chopra. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 16, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.